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Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

Commerce on dimanche: Should France expand Sunday store hours?

February 13th, 2015 No comments

Bonjour! I hope your new year is off to a great start.

As many veteran and new expats alike know, stores and shops in France tend to be closed or have limited hours on Sundays – especially outside of big cities. How many times have you needed groceries after 7pm on Sunday only to have to wait until Monday? This is not the experience in all stores – but it is often the case outside of Paris.

According to The Washington Post, France is currently debating whether or not to increase the number of Sundays shops can be open per year.

It is perhaps a surprising move from the French Socialist Party, but not as surprising knowing that the French presidential cabinet has appointed in recent months more conservative, business-friendly ministers like Macron who are cozying up to capitalism.

What are your thoughts? Feel free to share and post comments!

Bon weekend à tous !

France may finally allow more shops to open on Sunday
By Rick Noack
February 12, 2015

Baker Stéphane Cazenave is said to produce France’s best baguettes. However, according to French law, he can only produce those baguettes six days a week.

Cazenave had ignored that rule because demand for his baguettes was so high that he was able to employ 22 people seven days a week. Instead of being applauded, Cazenave now faces a lawsuit. “People see me like a thug just because I asked to work,” he told France Television. “Working shouldn’t be a crime in France.”

It might seem strange to Americans, but French businesses are often closed on Sundays in most parts of the country and are only allowed to open five times a year that day. Despite the French tradition of separating religion and state, labor unions and Catholic lobbies have so far succeeded in defending Sunday as a sacred ‘day of rest’ for the entire country.

This, however, could change. To many French, the current debate about allowing more businesses to open on Sundays is of a fundamental nature: Should the country become more commercial and capitalistic?

French President François Hollande believes so. He shocked many when he recently announced he would pursue a law known under the name of France’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron. The initiative aims to liberalize the country’s bureaucratic economy. For Hollande, a lot is at stake: Having so far been unable to decrease unemployment and boost growth, his popularity has sunk dramatically.

The law — pursued by a leftist Socialist Party government — is supposed to end a variety of monopolies and allow more competition, but its most contentious proposal is to allow stores and businesses to open more often. According to the draft, they could soon operate on 12 instead of five Sundays a year. Cities could decide on their own whether they would implement the rule, and there are exceptions in areas, such as in Paris.

One of the 2012 election promises of Hollande had been to keep Sunday a day of rest. Hence, breaking with this promise has been interpreted by some in France as a sign of governmental despair with an uncertain economic impact.

Critics are outraged. “It is a moment of truth speaking to the one question that truly matters: What kind of society do we want to live in?” former French employment minister Martine Aubry asked in an op-ed in Le Monde in December.

“Does the political left have nothing else to offer as a societal model than a Sunday stroll to the mall and the accumulation of consumer goods? Sunday should be a time set aside for oneself and for others,” Aubry argued.

Without actually naming it, Aubry implied what she did not want France to become: a country with a 7-days a week consumption culture as it is common in the United States. France is not the only country in which shopping is limited on Sundays: Germany, for instance, has upheld similar regulations.

When France’s economy surprisingly started to grow slightly at the end of 2014, it was mainly due to domestic consumption. Allowing consumers to spend money seven days a week instead of only six could boost the country’s outlook, some said.

Others, however, are more skeptical. “The bill is a ‘catch-all’ text that does not address France’s serious structural issues,” Emmanuel Martin, Director of the Paris-based Institute for Economic Studies-Europe, told The Washington Post. “France’s issues are structural: a bloated government administration both at the central and local level which generates inefficient regulations, inefficient spending and of course then, higher growth-killing taxation.”

Even though Martin is not convinced of the law, he acknowledged it does sometimes feel like something from another era. “For sure, it feels weird to see shops closed in a major shopping street of Paris — one the most beautiful cities of the world,” Martin said.

EACC conference in Lyon Dec. 17th: Investing in the USA

December 10th, 2013 No comments

The European-American Chamber of Commerce (EACC) has an upcoming conference in Lyon, France on Investing in the USA. The details (and registration information – under “inscriptions”) are below. I worked with some of these professionals before, and I can tell you it’s a great opportunity to learn more about transatlantic business relations, as well as network with like-minded professionals in Lyon.

Presenters will include the US Consul to Lyon, Clayton Stanger.

The Lyon newspaper Le Progrès also published an article on the conference today.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY:
The right time to INVEST IN THE USA
Enjeux | Dispositifs | Clefs de réussite | Supports pratiques

Réussir vos projets aux Etats-Unis: opportunités et moyens à disposition des PME.

Mardi 17 Décembre 2013 | 12h – 14h
OnlyLyon – Skyroom – Tour Oxygène
10-12 bvd Vivier Merle 69003 LYON
27ème étage
Conférence en français et en anglais

Les États-Unis représentent toujours la première économie du monde et le premier consommateur de la planète. À l’heure où les contours d’un traité de libre échange entre les États-Unis et l’Union Européenne se dessinent, il est impératif de comprendre les enjeux qui y sont liés et de tirer avantage au plus tôt de ces futures opportunités d’affaires. C’est également l’un des marchés les plus difficiles à pénétrer car l’implantation commerciale ou industrielle est souvent recommandée pour gagner en proximité et répondre à une très grande exigence en matière de services.

Quelles opportunités et quels moyens sont à disposition des PME désireuses de conquérir le marché américain ? C’est ce que vont vous présenter nos Experts, spécialistes de l’implantation et de l’accueil d’investisseurs étrangers aux États-Unis.

    Intervenants

Clayton STANGER :
Monsieur le Consul des États-Unis | Lyon

Julie-Capucine HOURS :
Responsable Amérique du Nord | CCI de Lyon

Tom THORELLI :
Avocat au barreau de Chicago | Paris

François HECHINGER :
Parner – West Region Venture & Private Equity Tax Practice Leader | BDO U.S.A.

Nicolas BERNARD-MASSON :
FDI manager de l’Etat de Pennsylvanie en Europe francophone | Lyon

Témoignage d’une entreprise (à confirmer)

    Modérateurs

Johann SPONAR :
Représentant Officiel de l’Etat de Pennsylvanie en Europe francophone et Directeur Général de SALVEO

Bradley STOCK :
Président de l’European American Chamber of Commerce Rhône-Alpes

    Programme

11h40 – Accueil + Cocktail de bienvenue
12h15 – Séminaire
13h30 – Questions | Cocktail networking | Rendez-vous B to B

Inscriptions
L’inscription est gratuite mais obligatoire : natacha.lalande@eaccfrance.eu

Lyon ranked best city in France for work-life balance

December 3rd, 2013 No comments

Bonjour, readers:

As you may know, I’ve lived in Angers, Lyon, Grenoble and Paris. While all of these cities have their qualities and drawbacks, Lyon particularly stands out to me as a wonderful city for work-life balance…not to mention its ideal geographic location.

Two recent polls rank Lyon highly for its business acumen and work-life balance.

“Business Friendly”
An October 2013 ranking carried out by the magazine L’Expansion-L’Entreprise found Lyon as the #1 “Business Friendly” city in France outside of Paris.
This ranking is available for download here: Le palmarès des villes les plus « business friendly »

Work-Life Balance
As published by the ONLYLYON organization that promotes Lyon in France and abroad, the business magazine Courrier Cadres seems to agree with me from a November 2013 poll of executives and managers in France.

The full article and study are available on the Courrier Cadres website here. There were a variety of questions asked and sub-categories that the article develops in full detail. An excerpt from the ONLYLYON article is below, and the overall ranking graphic is at the bottom.

ONLYLYON
LYON, VILLE PRÉFÉRÉE DES CADRES
24 nov. 2013 par Marine Lanceron

Le magazine Courrier Cadres s’est intéressé aux villes préférées des cadres. La rédaction a réalisé un sondage pour savoir quelles régions et communes étaient à leurs yeux les plus attractives d’un point de vue professionnel comme sur le plan de la qualité de vie.

Ce sondage nous apprend que près de 8 cadres sur 10 seraient prêts à faire des sacrifices professionnels pour vivre dans un meilleur environnement et 4 sur 10 sont prêts à partir de leur ville ou commune actuelle.

Lyon arrive en tête des villes qui réunit les critères d’opportunités professionnelles et de qualité de vie (24% des sondés), devançant ainsi Nantes (13%), Toulouse (11%), Bordeaux (10,5%) et Paris (6%). Elle semble donc être la ville la plus attractive pour changer de région.

Lyon, ville préférée des cadres pour allier carrière et qualité de vie, selon notre sondage exclusif Par Aline Gérard, le Jeudi 28 Novembre 2013

Lyon, ville préférée des cadres pour allier carrière et qualité de vie, selon notre sondage exclusif
Par Aline Gérard, le Jeudi 28 Novembre 2013

Full disclosure: I’m an unpaid volunteer “Ambassadeur ONLYLYON” for promoting Lyon.

AmCham France event June 17 on Innovation and Competitiveness

The American Chamber of Commerce in France has regular events with high profile speakers about different global business subjects.

On June 17 from 5:30 to 7pm, they are organizing the following event on Innovation and Competitiveness. The speaker will be Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, and the conference will be presided by Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.

Registration required by June 12. All info can be found here.

Innovation et compétitivité : une question d’horizon
17 jun 2013, 17h30 – 19h
Subject : Conférence avec Jeff IMMELT – Chairman of the Board & CEO de General Electric. Animée par Maurice LEVY, Chairman and CEO de Publicis Groupe et Président du Directoire Innovation et compétitivité : une question d’horizon
Speakers : Jeff Immelt – Chairman of the Board & CEO de General Electric Maurice Levy- Chairman & CEO de Publicis Groupe et Président du Directoire
Participants : All members
Location : Pavillon Ledoyen – 1 avenue Dutuit 75008 Paris

Clara Gaymard, Présidente de l’ American Chamber of Commerce in France et Jean Luc Allavena, Président de la French-American Foundation France ont le plaisir de vous convier à la conférence de

Jeff Immelt
Chairman of the Board & CEO de General Electric
sur le thème : “Innovation et compétitivité : une question d’horizon”

Animée par

Maurice Levy
Chairman & CEO de Publicis Groupe et Président du Directoire

La conférence sera suivie d’un cocktail
Veuillez noter que la conférence se tiendra en anglais
Make a reservation (by June 12).

European American Chamber of Commerce event in Lyon 4/16

The European American Chamber of Commerce, Lyon chapter, is a part of a network organization that facilitates business and best practices between the US and France. It has chapters in Paris, Lyon, Boston, Cincinnati, New Jersey, New York and a partner in Italy.

They hold conferences and events on business-related topics. On April 16th, they’ll be holding a talk on ETI size companies. The event details are below. RSVP required.

Happy networking!

EACC & KPMG present:

Focus on ETIs,
Intermediate sized companies

Europe counts over 30,000 ETIs – an intermediate category between small and medium enterprises and large companies, more than 3,000 of which are in France, where they are considered to be an essential driver of economic growth.

Speaker: Sara Righenzi de Villers, Expert comptable Commissaire aux Comptes, KPMG

Who are they?
How do they resist the effects of the current economic crisis?
What are their challenges?
What are their key growth drivers?

Tuesday 16 April 2013
from 6:30pm to 8:30pm

KPMG, 51 rue de St Cyr 69009 LYON

6:30pm to 7:00pm – Welcome cocktail
7:00pm to 8:00pm – Presentation and Q&A
8:00pm to 8:30pm – Networking cocktail

How attractive is France’s investment environment?

December 17th, 2012 1 comment

The French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) posted the following summary of a report recently carried out by consulting and accounting firm KPMG.

The full report is available here, entitled “Facts & Figures on France’s Investment Attractiveness”.

Probably a good idea to check out other resources as well.

There is an interesting report by The Economist in their “The World in 2013” edition that highlights the likely challenges facing President Hollande’s administration in the next year including the difficulty in encouraging business growth and more investment.

While France remains a country that retains an attractive profile, there is a real risk that increasing taxes and a morose business climate could take hold and hamper growth in 2013. So although France has a lot to offer, it must make progress to improve the business climate and decrease unemployment. It’s not an easy time for Europe, and France will not be an exception. But as the adage goes, “no pain, no gain”.

From: Invest in France Agency

In the competition with other European countries to attract inward investment projects, France boasts a number of key strengths underpinning its investment attractiveness.

These advantages include:
– A large, dynamic market in Europe.
– A skilled, productive workforce.
– Recognized support to foster innovation.
– A plentiful supply of commercial real estate.
– Dense, high-quality transport infrastructure.
– High-quality energy and telecommunications at competitive rates.
– Renowned quality of life.

According to KPMG’s “Competitive Alternatives” biennial guide to business costs in over 100 cities in nine different countries, France stands out for having particularly attractive business setup costs, comprising labor costs, facility costs, transport, utility costs (electricity, natural gas, telecommunications) and corporate tax. In the 2012 edition, France was ranked fourth among the countries compared, up two places from sixth in the previous rankings (2010).

The Economist’s France 14-page special report

November 19th, 2012 3 comments

The Economist this week has a 14-page special report this week in its print edition that focuses on France, from its economy to politics, under the central theme of how economic structural reform is necessary in order to avoid a “time bomb” going off at the heart of the Eurozone. You can access the Nov. 17, 2012 print edition contents here. The leader article introducing the special report is here, and the special report link can be found at the table of contents site under “Special report: France” (there are 8 articles).

I’m delving into all this right now and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don’t agree with the magazine’s analysis, it is a highly-regarded publication for a reason: for asking important questions.

This is the not the first time the British news magazine has waxed poetic about France’s economic woes and potential for growth. Indeed, French economic and business paper Les Echos puts past covers and stories into perspective (in French).

What do you think are France’s biggest problems and do you think Hollande and Ayrault’s government can solve them?

 

Paris Power Networking on entrepreneurship March 13

Hi everyone, I’m back after an absence. I know you missed me!

There is a very interesting event coming up to learn more about entrepreneurship while networking with fellow professionals in a great setting in Paris. I’ve been to several Paris Power Networking events and know the directors Fabien and Géraldine. Fantastic people, fantastic organization.

Registration required. Sign-up information and detailed information are below, and available on their website.

Happy networking!

“SUCCESS FORUM: ENTREPRENEURIAL ROUNDTABLE”
Peer Group Brainstorming Session to Promote and Support Entrepreneurial Endeavors


Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7:30pm

Location: 1st Avenue Restaurant & Bar, facing 119-121 Boulevard Pereire, 75017 Paris: MAP

REGISTRATION: €30 FOR GUESTS / €15 FOR MEMBERS (Select “Member Discount”)
Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND:

In its effort to support entrepreneurial success, Power Networking is proud to introduce the popular “Success Forum Series” to the Paris community: an exclusive platform for CEOs, Start-Ups and Investors to meet and share valuable expertise in a highly creative environment.

Brainstorm with business owners, entrepreneurs, financiers, legal and I.T. specialists
Every participant will walk away with new ideas, contacts and business opportunities
Meet Fabien Bertault, Founder and CEO of Power Networking
Congratulations “Baby Plume” for being selected as the Empowered Business on March 13!

Interviews with American expats in France: cultural perspective

December 6th, 2011 2 comments

Bonjour!

I was recently interviewed by Margarita Gokun Silver, MPH, CPCC, PNLP at her site here (article below). I sought to explain my story and provide a little does of cultural insight into living in France based on my experiences.

My fellow expat in France, Lindsey, was also interviewed about doing business in France as she started her own company, Lola’s Cookies, selling cookies. You can find that article here.

I invite you to leave your own cultural perspectives in the comments section below.

An American in France
Posted on December 5, 2011

There have been quite a few famous Americans (and other expats) in history that decided to either settle or live in France for long periods of time. Today many follow their example and in this blog post we interview Michael Barrett, an American who is now living in France.

Global Coach Center (GCC): How long have you lived in France and how did you come to live there?

Michael: I’ve lived in France now over four years in a row but longer than that over my lifetime. I lived in Paris as a baby and toddler for three years as my father worked here on assignment. My family always had an interest in France so it influenced my decision to study the language and culture in middle school, high school and then in college. My first trip back to France was with the French club of my high school in 2003. During my sophomore year (2nd year) at the University of Notre Dame, I studied abroad in Angers, France 2004-2005, where I lived with a French family, studied in French, traveled and made friends from all over the world. It motivated me to come back.

I followed that with an internship at Sciences Po Paris in 2006, and then after graduating in 2007, I moved to Lyon to be an English assistant. I met my French girlfriend there, pursued graduate studies in communications in Grenoble for two years, during which I worked at AmCham France. In July 2010 I was hired as a Digital Project Manager at New BBDO Paris, and advertising agency. I’ve been here ever since, and I also manage the site Americanexpatinfrance, write for several websites and am involved with the expatriate community while keeping a close group of French friends. I plan on applying for dual citizenship soon.

GCC: What do you love most about living in France?

Michael: My girlfriend, my French friends, the rich culture and gastronomy and history, the diversity of the regions and their characteristics… close proximity to other European countries. A generally balanced approach to life and work…their healthcare system –although it’s not perfect.

GCC: What frustrates you?

Michael: Generalizations about America and its culture, strikes, lack of convenience here (the US is a culture of convenience)…although I’ve gradually come to accept these cultural differences with the traditional French shrug of the shoulders. Every country has its own pros and cons.

GCC: What would you have liked to know that you didn’t before coming to live in France?

Michael: To know how to (try to) master the inner workings of the French civil service bureaucracy and its paperwork, implicit messages (not explicit) and assumptions that you know everything if you don’t ask a question. But I’ve learned how to manage that, too.

GCC: What are three tips you can give people planning to move to France?

Michael:

Learn the language and about the culture as well, as this will not only enrich you but also show a genuine willingness on your part to the French that you’re making an effort and reaching out.

On a related note, be open-minded. This is not America, and there will be some culture shock and things and approaches that are done differently. They have a different perspective here on many things, so approach it with curiosity and don’t be afraid to have friendly debate with French coworkers and friends (make French friends), as long as it’s not on taboo subjects (money, religion) – those are for closer friends usually.

Take a look at practical matters in detail – education, healthcare, taxes, driving regulations, housing – hopefully your employer or organization can help you with these matters. Better to be well prepared than land here and figure out as you go along. That can add to frustration. I’d be happy to advise on questions or refer you to an expert in a field that I don’t master as well.

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